Friday 30th April 2021
When did you last write a letter by hand? Have you ever written a letter by hand? Old fogeys like me fear that letter writing seems to be dying out amongst the youth of today. In fact, I suspect there may be people reading this who have only ever written cards of congratulations or expressing sorrow but have never sat down over a few days and devoted time to sharing intimate details of their lives with a loved one using pen and ink, then trundled off to the Post Office ready to lick a stamp.
During a recent Spring clean, I found a stash of letters from my dear friend and writing partner who lives in Helsinki. The joy I felt re-reading the decade-old letters was almost indescribable. Mr. Monaghan has a particular way with words I grant you, so he has a head start here. But being reminded of his struggles to adjust to life in a new country, his travels to far-flung corners of the world, and his ongoing search for happiness was a beautiful enough experience no matter how well the letters were written. But boy these were well written. And there’s the rub. Letter writing is an art as I said. If you have never done it before I shall give you a few pointers which I hope will have you running off to a Mont Blanc shop in a jiffy to purchase a gold-nabbed fountain pen.
Make It Personal
If like me, you have a plethora of disparate friends, you may find yourself talking, acting, and behaving slightly differently with each of them. Imagine you are talking to the person you are writing to. Last night I heard every intonation of my friend’s voice as I read his words. All the inflections, the subtle nuances, the innuendos. Everything. I know him so well it was as though he were sitting beside me. I laughed out loud several times.
Take Your Time
I often write letters over several days, or sometimes even weeks. Each time I sign off I let the recipient know what I am doing next, or where I am going, and when I might next put pen to paper to continue. Then I say hello again when I sit back down. I date each section so they can see the time that has elapsed. I even let them know when I pause for a coffee, just in case they missed me while I was gone.
If you have the time and the money, personalised stationery, and a Mont Blanc pen may be a wonderful way to write. But lack of funds need not stop you. Any old paper and pen will do. Only got a few pages of an old notebook and a pink crayon lying around, fine. Just like in life, what you have to say is far more important than how you express it.
Share A Special Memory
The least flattering photograph I have ever had taken is one of my favourites. Why I hear you cry. Well, I shall tell you. It was taken on one of the funniest, craziest nights of my life and was sent to me folded up in a long letter that made no reference to the said photo. The place, the people, the smells, the laughter, the music. It all comes flooding back every time I look at it. Despite me making a startling resemblance to the Hunchback of Notre dame. And no, you are not going to see it. Ever.
As Lord Byron once said, “Letter writing is the only device containing solitude with good company”. I love spending time alone. I think I am hilarious and can often sit chuckling away to myself over thoughts and memories without the need to be with others. When I write letters I am alone with my thoughts. Letter writing is unique in that it is a monologue, one that may well be part of an ongoing dialogue admittedly, but each one stands alone as a direct line to your inner thoughts. Enjoy conjuring up images and memories that the recipient will connect with. Have fun! Life is far too short to moan about the weather or the political situation wherever you may be. Cherish the beautiful friendship you have with that person and let them know how much they mean to you. And do it without the need for reciprocation. Not everyone may have your spare time, or wit. But just by sharing your thoughts with someone you are creating a bond that will only strengthen in time. Trust me, I talk from experience.
So whether you feel like it or not, get writing today, that is an order. But for those of you who may need some more inspiration, there is a wonderful book a dear friend bought me which I have given many people a copy of. It is one of my all-time favourites. I urge you to read it, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
Much love to you all,